An open contest can be taken by SHALAMIYR, while Nortonthorpe Lad, Working Title and The Real Deal are among others with claims. Fast ground certainly suited the Philip Hobbs-trained pick well enough when he dotted up in a maiden hurdle over 2m 1f at Exeter last time, and he is being put up 3lbs for that. Pedigree suggests that he is well worth another try over this far and we will stick with him. Nortonthorpe Lad has been raised 11lbs for a nine-length win over course and distance, and with A P McCoy up he looks to have a strong chance of going close again, though he is not the most consistent. Working Title has kept some very good company over hurdles and, more recently, fences, though his jumping is not always the best and he is unproven on ground quicker than good, so we will take him on today. The Real Deal has never won on going faster than good to soft, so he has that negative to overcome, and the same goes for potential improver Humbel Ben. Mae Cigan is fit from the Flat and has a feather weight on her back, so is not ruled out, though we are most taken with the claim of Shalamiyr.
Raslan 25-1 (11-4) Towards rear and pushed along, soon struggling, 9th of 13, 43l behind Bella Haze (10-13) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gs.
Oslot (FR) 22-1 (11-5) Held up in rear, under pressure 7th, soon weakened, 7th of 9, 40l behind Fix The Rib (11-7) at Ascot 2m 1f hcp chs 0-130 (2) gd in Nov.
Nampour (FR) 16-1 (10-10) Held up towards rear, unseated rider 5th, in a race won by Bella Haze (10-13) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gs, 13 ran.
Working Title (IRE) 33-1 (10-6) Tracked leaders, ridden and lost place 12th, weakened from 3 out, 12th of 20, well behind Copper Bleu (11-1) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov Listed hcp hdl (1) gs in Mar.
Nortonthorpe Lad (IRE) 7-2fav (11-4) Held up in rear on outside, cajoled along 4th, headway approaching 6th, soon challenging, led before 2 out, clear approaching last, stayed on well, won at Newton Abbot 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd beating Robo (10-11) by 9l, 11 ran.
Baccalaureate (FR) 8-1 (11-8) Held up, hampered 5th, headway when mistake 3 out, edged left and chased winner bend after 2 out, no impression when demoted to 3rd and not fluent last, 3rd of 8, 19l behind Puzzlemaster (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m 1f 4yo nov hdl (2) gd in Apr.
Akarshan (IRE) 25-1 (10-10) Towards rear, pushed along after 3 out, one pace and no impression next, 7th of 16, 18l behind Mous Of Men (10-6) at Sandown 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gd in Apr.
The Real Deal (IRE) 6-1 (10-12) Blundered and unseated rider 2nd, in a race won by Quartz De Thaix (11-1) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gd in Apr, 11 ran.
Tabaran (FR) 7-1 (10-12) Chased leaders, went 2nd 6th until 8th, outpaced after 2 out, stayed on flat, 5th of 18, 5l behind Astracad (10-7) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd.
Mohanad (IRE) 22-1 (10-0) In touch, headway to chase leaders, before 2 out, one pace last, 4th of 16, 2 3/4l behind Mous Of Men (10-6) at Sandown 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gd in Apr.
Freddy's Star (IRE) 16-1 (11-2) Chased leaders, left in lead 3 out, headed before next and soon weakened, 7th of 11, 23l behind Alazan (11-5) at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) gd.
Shalamiyr (FR) 2-1fav (11-0) Made all, ridden after 2 out, in command before last, stayed on well, won at Exeter 2m 1f mdn hdl (4) gf beating Spent (11-0) by 5l, 10 ran.
Humbel Ben (IRE) 10-1 (11-5) Led, in 2nd approaching last, lost that position near finish, 3rd of 16, 8l behind Alfie Spinner (10-12) at Exeter 2m 1f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) hvy in Dec.
Like A Duke (FR) 6-1 (11-2) Took keen hold, mistakes in rear, fell 6th, in a race won by Pickamus (11-12) at Stratford 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gd in Apr, 7 ran.
Mae Cigan (FR) 40-1 (11-0) Held up, blundered 6th, headway to chase leaders after 4 out, chased winner next, one pace, 2nd of 12, 3 1/2l behind Blazing Buck (10-4) at Ffos Las 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd in Mar.